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The First World War

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There were a range of inner-divisions inside the ranks of the political parties which were accentuated during the war. The Socialist party, for example, continued to be split into those who believed in democracy and working with other parties to ultimately achieve Socialist rule, and those who presented a more radical and hard lined view of Socialism, one which says that revolution 'from below' (i.e. the working class) is the only true way of achieving full Socialism for Germany. The clear split away from the Kaiser's, autocratic rule to a slightly more democratic rule following his abdication also suggests political divisions; as does the Reichstag's split over the implementation of Burgfried or Siegfried; that is, debate whether to implement war for peace, or war for territorial gains.

Inside the Reichstag, political divisions had been raging long before the outbreak of War. The theory of Weltpolitik; expanding Germany rule globally through any means possible, was and had been supported by Conservatives since the late 19th century, whilst Socialist ranks, namely the SPD, were against the idea of expansion, especially by force. There was a clear division in the Reichstag between those who wanted an end to the war and those who were prepared to see it continue for however long was necessary, as to suit Germany's growth. It had appeared, through the 1917 Peace Resolution that the Socialist party had gained Burgfried; it was passed with the support of numerous parties collusion and may have signalled the end to the war. However, the practical implications of this Resolution were sparse; nothing really happened as a result of it, as a lack of military and full parliamentary backing stifled the opportunity for reconciliation and an imminent peace treaty. In this instance, then, it seems that political divisions were continuing to accentuate; rather than their being a new rift between the Socialists and Conservatives, the rift was just getting larger. The divisions of the left and the right wing were proving difficult to bridge; and for the foreseeable future, the political divisions would continue. Matters weren't helped by the 'Silent Dictatorship' of Hindenburg-Ludendorff, which would further split opinion in the Reichstag, Whilst Conservative politicians would support their stance of implementing the Auxiliary Labour Law, Socialist opposition would see that as class oppression; a nicer term for 'forced labour.' The emergences of the Silent Dictatorship undeniably accentuated political divisions in Germany, as there were now people in charge of Germany who were forcibly making the lower class, those who were by and large Socialist, to work for the war effort. This would no doubt lead to further divisions and in-fighting in political circles, with claims of unfairness and Rankism against the lower classes. In conclusion, whilst the main political division remained the same (left wing vs. right wing), the introduction of war left a very clear ultimatum between Burgfried and Siegfried, which would only serve to widen the political gap between the two wings.

Despite the clear division emerging between the Socialists and Conservatives, there were also cracks which were beginning to show in the SPD itself. Revolutionary activity in Russia (with the overthrowing of the Tsar in 1917) had sparked excitement in Germany Socialist minds, and henceforth the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party) were formed soon after, gaining a member base of around 100000 members. This new, 'radical' party, were committed to an immediate end to the war, and weren't prepared to wait any longer for Conservative coalitions or democratic friendship. In this instance, it seems that WW1 inadvertently (indirectly) caused split in the Socialist party; the Bolshevik revolution in Russia (1917) was partly as resistance to the Tsar's war methods and policies, so therefore it could be argued that Socialist divisions were as a result of the First World War. However, divisions inside the party had been brewing as early as 1912, as the emergence of the SPD as the largest individual party in the Reichstag had caused dissent from some Socialists, such as Karl Liebknecht, into arguing that full-blown revolution should take place as soon as possible, whilst the SPD had the upper-hand. Certainly, in review, it seems that the war was a large contributory factor to further split in the Socialist party. It could be argued that the War even weakened the central Socialists (SPD), as their member base was depleted by rebels who wanted action with greater imminence. Undoubtedly, however, the war accentuated



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